The Secret of Internet Celebrities: A Qualitative Study of Online Opinion Leaders on Weibo

Li, Ruohan
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Internet celebrities are widely observable on social media platforms and are an essential component to a social media marketing program. Drawing on the media success literature and online influencer research, this study reflects Internet celebrities’ fame-seeking practices and discusses on three issues from literature: definition of Internet celebrities, Internet celebrities’ identification criteria and what factors can contribute to individual online influence. A series of interview from three Internet celebrities and three followers of each celebrity were conducted to enrich this study. The results show that Internet celebrities are people who have become famous by means of Internet, and have the ability to influence others. They are characterized as having a certain number of followers; high level of interactivity on their profile; and promising business value. Moreover, this study suggests a five-dimensional perspective to understand individual online influence. We believe that these findings provide new insights for interpretation of Internet celebrities and suggest a possible success formula for fame-seekers to achieve influence on the increasingly competitive social media platforms.
Social Media and e-Business Transformation, Internet celebrities, Social media Influencers, Online influence, Wanghong, Weibo
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